golf launch monitors

How to Practice with a Launch Monitor?

How to Practice with a Launch Monitor

A golf launch monitor measures different metrics of the golf ball either while it is struck or after it has been struck with a club. There are two types of golf launch monitors.

One is a radar-based device that measures various metrics after the ball has been struck. The other is a camera-based device that measures various metrics at the point of impact.

The data collected by the launch monitor is then analyzed via built-in systems and algorithms to give out measurements and projections that are useful for a golfer to interpret.

The radar-based golf launch monitor sends out microwave signals in search of a moving object. Some of these signals get reflected back by the moving object (in this case a golf ball) and a sensor captures these reflected signals to calculate various metrics.

A camera-based monitor uses a host of high-performance cameras to record ball and club data in order to calculate projected distance, flight, and other key metrics. Some golf launch monitors have add-on features that can also analyze club head data.

Generally speaking, radar-based golf launch monitors are more suited to outdoor conditions while camera-based golf launch monitors can be used indoors and outdoors.

In indoor conditions, radar-based golf launch monitors can only capture part of the ball’s natural flight path. Hence, they have to rely more on assumptions to generate projections.

What metrics are measured and how does that help me?

Golf launch monitors can give out useful information like ball speed, launch direction, launch angle, spin rate, height, carry, landing angle, hang time, smash factor (quality of contact made with the club), and other such ball-related data.

If you are measuring club head data as well, then golf launch monitors can give you information like plane angle, club speed, club face angle, spin loft, club path, dynamic and spin loft, and other such club-related data.

These numbers can help you analyze your swing, your posture, your hitting quality, and other key aspects of your game. These metrics can also help you figure out which golf club works best for you. It can allow you to adjust your grip, choke down on the club, or modify your swing motion.

The information given out by golf launch monitors does involve assumptions and projections. Therefore, you cannot take it as 100% accurate. Rather, you can use that information as a guiding aid along with your best judgment.

How to interpret the data from golf launch monitors?

Ball Speed:

Most commonly used golf launch monitors show ball speed as the first metric. This is the speed of the ball just after impact with the club. Usually, a higher speed indicates a sweeter contact. Practice hitting a few shots and compare their ball speeds.

You should be able to notice the difference. Also, note that longer clubs give you more speed while shorter clubs (e.g. wedges) can lead to lower ball speeds being displayed.

Smash Factor:

Another widely followed metric is the smash factor. The technical description smash factor is the measure of the amount of energy transferred from the golf club head to the golf ball. The number is a decimal and indicates the ball speed for a unit of club speed.

For example, a smash factor of 1.2 translates to a ball speed of 120 mph for a club speed of 100 mph. The higher the smash factor number, the better it is. Many golfers try to achieve a smash factor of 1.5 or thereabouts.

Club Speed:

After ball speed, the other important speed-related metric is club speed. This metric measures the speed of the club head.

This metric usually is more relevant for drivers rather than irons, wedges, and other clubs. A higher club speed does not necessarily mean a better outcome. A higher club speed translates to more distance off the tee.

Launch Angle:

The launch angle is the angle of ascent of the golf ball immediately after contact with the club. This metric by itself does not tell you much.

However, by comparing your reading with trackman numbers or benchmarks, you can tell whether your angle is too high or low. If your launch angle is off, then you might have to change your club or adjust the club’s shaft.

Spin Rate:

The spin rate is the amount of backspin that the golf ball has as it travels the distance. In some cases, you want more backspin while in some others you want less backspin and a straighter trajectory.

Shorter golf clubs tend to generate higher backspin due to a downward angle of attack.


Another useful metric to know is the carry. It indicates the distance that the ball is expected to travel based on the data measured during impact and thereafter.

Knowing the carry for different golf clubs is important because it will help you make decisions on the go in real-time game conditions.

More Information About Golf Launch Monitors

Golf launch monitors are quite portable. They can be carried to an outdoor golf course or an indoor range without much trouble.

However, golf launch monitors are quite expensive. They can easily range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars depending on the features a particular model offers.

Golf launch monitors are expensive because of the technology they offer and the significant markup that their manufacturers charge.

Golfers who are serious about improving their game and fine-tuning imperfections in their swing, positioning, and club selections will find it worth investing in a golf launch monitor.

If you are wondering whether golf launch monitors are accurate, then the answer is not clear. Some high-performance models can detect a ball landing point within 1-2 yards.

Most golf launch monitors are widely believed to be around 90% accurate.

However, more than the accuracy, the big utility of a golf launch monitor is its role in helping you try and test different clubs, different grips, and different adjustments to your game.

Ultimately, the true test of all your tweaks and practices is when you execute your shots on game day.

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